NORSE NOVICE: Eager to leave her ski comfort zone, Tori Mayo explores the pistes of Are in the Swedish Alps.
EING a seasoned skier, I normally head for the French or Swiss Alps in winter. Iconic peaks, world-class pistes and a lively apres ski atmosphere keep me coming back year after year.
But eager to try something different, I agreed to pack my salopettes and head to Scandinavia.
Though famous for flat-pack furniture, blonde-haired beauties, ABBA and Stieg Larsson crime novels, Sweden is not so well-known as a ski destination. The northern region– often referred to as the Swedish Alps – has 13 major resorts, mostly clustered around its centralwestern border with Norway.
I flew into Sweden’s Ostersund airport to spend three nights in Are (pronounced or-a).
Located in Jamtland, Sweden’s second largest province, Are is Scandinavia’s main mountain city. The ski area stretches across six main resorts from Duved in the west to Are Bjornen in the east, and the Alpine World Championships were held here in 2007. A cluster of colourful wooden buildings makes the area look like a large village,
Neolithic-looking mounds are a sharp contrast to the Alps.
while the vast lake Aresjon and the smooth-topped Areskutan mountain provide a scenic backdrop.
I checked into the large ski-in ski-out Tott Hotell, located at the bottom of the Tottliften lift, servicing several red and blue runs. Clean lines, glossy surfaces and bright colours characterise the hotel lobby, while other communal areas are more traditional in style. Vintage skis, beaten-up leather sofas and reindeerskin throws made the place feel distinctly Scandinavian.
If my days were to be spent hurtling down mountains, my evenings would be enjoyed in the lounge bar, hot tubs, sauna and spa. My spacious, en-suite room featured basic cooking facilities, mini bar and a view of the lake.
The most noticeable difference skiing here compared to France or Switzerland is the terrain. Similar to the Scottish Cairngorms, the black, tree-covered, Neolithic-looking mounds are a sharp contrast to the jagged peaks which reach as far as the eye can see in the southern European Alps. The slopes are also much quieter and lift queues were non-existent.
The pistes had certainly exceeded my expectations, but would the food and drink be equally as impressive?
ADRENALINE: ‘Zip lining’ is another way of adding excitement to skiing breaks in the Are area of Sweden.